I had travelled the A92 passing Freuchie on my way to Glenrothes hundreds of times in the noughties for work.
But on a sunny Friday night recently I was making the trip for a completely different reason. I was fortunate to be trying out the first pop-up dining experience at Falkland Estate.
A “Taste of the World” was to be served in the estate’s charming Horsestalls – former stables converted into dining booths – and I was excited and intrigued by the innovation.
The food on the night was prepared by Newburgh chef Stella Colleluori to celebrate the success of Falkland Estate’s “Buy Local, Taste the World” meal kits that can be bought at their NeighbourFood Falkland Market.
The aim of the evening was for Stella to invent a dining experience showcasing flavours of the world using local produce.
The focus was on Sri Lanka and, if my judgment is to be trusted, she certainly met the brief.
Spices and recipes used on the night were from SRI Spice.
Entering Falkland Estate’s stunning courtyard, I already felt like a grand evening was ahead of myself and my wife, Karen.
And that feeling was confirmed when we entered the Horsestalls where we were met by a log-burning fire which lit up the venue.
After being shown to our seats – each horse stall can cater for six people – we happily chatted with fellow guests as we perused the menu for the evening ahead.
We already knew that venison was to be the main event and as it was a BYOB event we were armed with a La Belle Angèle Pinot Noir 2020 from Majestic Wine.
Karen is more of a wine buff than myself so I was the designated driver. I allowed myself a sip and it was a delight.
The dining began with the amuse bouche – a spiced chickpea cup.
This was a decadent morsel that combined light spices with the chickpeas. I must confess chickpeas are never top of my list, but this could convert me, being the ideal introduction to the five courses.
The starter quickly followed and I was rather excited when I saw the plate being put down in front of me, having already identified from the menu that this was something I was sure to enjoy.
Chilli, lime and ginger pork with a coconut pancake and brinjal (aubergine) pickle was a delight.
I was temporarily out of service as I indulged myself in flavours that sang together. Stella had scored a hit with everyone as the tables sat silent.
Our palates were refreshed ahead of the main course by a mango and passion fruit popsicle.
This was Stella’s cleverly crafted take on an ice lolly, but using the fresh fruit. It was as visually appealing as it was tasty, refreshing and slightly tart. I loved it.
I love venison. It’s a vastly under-rated meat in my opinion, being very flavoursome if treated correctly, high in protein, iron, B vitamins, but low in fat.
However, I had never eaten it in a curry – but I also love curry so my expectations were high for the main event.
I was not to be disappointed. The venison melted in your mouth with a nice spicy hit which didn’t overpower the meat. The accompaniment of coconut greens (kale from the estate) and turmeric rice, made the dish sing for me.
All too soon, it was the dessert which would bring a fantastic night to a conclusion.
Anyone who knows me will confirm this – I am not a sweet tooth, dessert is not my thing.
It might be now.
A cashew and cardamom brownie with chai tea toffee sauce and Luvians ice cream was an absolute joy.
The brownie had bite, but was also tender, but the sauce for me just lifted the whole dish and took it to another level.
We like to eat out when we can, but we rarely tend to return to the same places. However, the talk on the way home was we would certainly be back.
Stella, who runs Hatters caterers in nearby Newburgh, mingled with guests throughout the event, providing those present with the opportunity to find out more about the dishes.
Her enthusiasm, talent and undoubted commitment to the concept at Falkland was there for all to see.
This is a fantastic innovation by Falkland Estate, who have used the pandemic to great effect to build their offering.
Lesley Duffy, NeighbourFood Falkland Market host, said: “Since launching our click and collect market, having the weekly market has helped us connect with local producers.
“We decided to step it up and incorporate stunning global flavours that really complement the local produce. Stella has been a joy to work with and has put so much energy and imagination into making local food inspiring and delicious.
“We can’t wait to host the first event with the Sri-Lankan inspired menu and showcase how well our produce goes hand in hand with wonderful flavours from around the world.”
The meal kits, priced at £20 and serve two, are available to buy at the NeighbourFood website.
These change seasonally with the Sri-Lankan curry currently in stock. A Greek meal kit will be launched on May 23.
More pop-ups will follow with one planned for summer and autumn, so keep an eye on the website for details.