Momma Told Me: Bucket List Tuesday: U.S. Epicurean Musts

Blog Archive

Bucket List Tuesday: U.S. Epicurean Musts

It's no secret I love food.

I don't want to say 'it's in my blood,' but, well, it kind of is. After all, I am the daughter who grew up spending Winter vacations being regaled with the over-the-top tales of my father's eating. We're talking about a young man who would drag his mother into the grinder shop next door whenever his family went to the corner scoop (ice cream) shop for dessert. Then there are the tales on my mother's side of the family, of his adulthood conquests. The warnings never to accompany him onto a cruise ship, or to be prepared to get that fateful knock at 3AM, "I'm hitting the buffet, you wanna go?" It's funny, really, because my father is otherwise fairly conservative within his life. He's worked the same job for 25 years, took care of his family (even gave up beer until I was out of the house), has a waistline most men his age would envy, and works within a strict budget of his own design.

So, it's really quite remarkable when conventional portions get thrown out the window, and especially when 'all you can eat' is mentioned, how much passion this man displays for his food. My Pop is my official Endless Shrimp buddy, when the promotion rolls around to our local Red Lobster, and our tales of 'shrimp genocide' are known by waitstaff, family and friends. Of course it's not always about quantity with food; some of the more refined culinary experiences can also be a standout on their own. There are a few U.S. Epicurean experiences I hope to check off my Bucket List someday.
Peanut Butter and Co Sandwich Shop
The first may not seem so wild to the naked eye at first. It's really just more of an 'If I'm ever in New York' kinda thing. I discovered the Peanut Butter and Co. Sandwich Shop on a Food Network program featuring (you guessed it) peanut butter, several years before I ever had a chance to try the brand's retail product. At the time the program was rambling on about Elvis and his profound love of peanut butter, and his signature peanut butter and banana sandwich; I was in love right then and there. However PBandCo offers much more than simple Elvis replica eats, their over 10 signature blends of peanut butter can be paired with a myriad of carbs and countless toppings to make a truly one of a kind peanut butter experience. Not feeling inspired? How about the Fools Gold, featuring fresh blueberry jam, rich original peanut butter and slices of thick cut bacon. Or the Fluffernutter with a dash of fresh Honey, melding whipped mallow creme with rich peanuty taste? There are even savory sandwiches; just try The Heat Is On peanut butter with local favorite Baloney, Cheddar, Mayonaise, and Ketchup.
Dining In The Dark
For a truly unique dining experience that has only recently made it's way into top metropolitan US cities, how about Dining In The Dark? Wildly popular overseas, culinary experiences that heighten the consumers senses through the application of sensual deprivation are believed to bring out a sharper palette and better appreciation of gourmet food. Currently there are two typical manners of 'blind eating,' where the diner is either blindfolded, or literally led into a pitch black dining room. Opaque, in Los Angeles, CA is just one of several Dining In The Dark locations, where guests are required to check all personal belongings upon arrival in the lit lobby, then guided into the dark dining hall by visually impaired and blind waitstaff. The menu is, naturally, specially crafted to highlight textures and tastes that will inherently benefit from the full dedication of an focused palette.
Al Johnson's Goats On The Roof
The third one is more out of whimsy than culinary curiosity. Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik, in Sister Bay, Wisconsin truly takes unusual dining atmosphere to a new level. One of two such 'goats on the roof' locals in the USA, Al Johnson pairs authentic Swedich cuisine with fully garbed waitstaff and free roaming goats on the grass covered 'roof.' Believe it or not, the restaurant didn't open with the intention of being 'that place with goats on the roof,' it happened by pure accident when a family friend brought one in honor of Al Johnson's birthday one year. The property was already home to a slew of farm animals, and one goat quickly grew into many, as they found their way to the roof, where they could chew on foliage. Of course, I hear the food is good too- Prime Rib Sandwich, Home Pickled Herring, Herb Rubbed Pork Chops, and Swedish Meatballs make the menu, just to name a few delightful Swedish dishes!
Gordon Ramsay BurGR
My list simply wouldn't be complete without, not 1 but 2, Gordon Ramsay creations. As a fan of over 10 years, I've yet to actually taste his menu- I've tried to replicate his published recipes, but it's not the same. While this world renowned chef has over 38 restaurants across the globe, my top 2 US picks are both located in Las Vegas, and the brainchild of recent Hell's Kitchen endorsements. BurGR, nestled within Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, and Steak at Hotel Paris, speak to my passion of meat. Not only had Gordon put in place an original curing system for his meat at Steak, but the contemporary steakhouse also offers his own home comfort favorites, such as that infamous Shepard's Pie. At BurGR Ramsay insists all patties are hand pressed and cooked over an open wood burning flame for additional flavor and complexity; and all fries are cooked 3 ways to ensure the perfect layers of crisp and texture. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Do you have a type of food, favorite chef, or restaurant you must visit on your Bucket List?


  1. I have to say that I've been lucky to live with a man that likes to try new food and when we were both working we didn't hesitate to eat out - a lot. We enjoyed some amazing meals in many different states and countries.

    Now that we don't have money it's more about cooking good food but we still go out once or twice a year.

    You've got an interesting and eclectic list there...well thought out.

  2. I'm not sure I really have a bucket list for foods. I do want to enjoy more local foods and wildcraft a few more new things.

  3. HUbs and I try to visit Diners Drive-Ins & Dives places when we travel. It's always interesting stuff and we haven't yet had a bad experience. Even if the food isn't anything to write home about, it's become our fun thing to do together, and we have fun.

    By the way, peanut butter with bacon, honey, and cheddar cheese, grilled like grilled cheese has become my most favorite thing ever!

  4. I don't have a bucket list of food places but I am always trying to stop in and see places I see on the different food places.

  5. I am with you on the Red Lobster thing. My daughter and I like to split a big plate, like the Ultimate Feast or something. So much food and so yummy! I think she would kill someone for those cheddar biscuits.

  6. I would love to eat at Hell's Kitchen one day! It think it could be a fun experience!

  7. WOW! I didn't know places like this actually existed. I saw it on a TV show once and thought that would be a rather interesting experience. But they are real! so cool! For me, there is this Brazilian restaurant about 4 hrs away from me, that I really really really want to go to. It has been on my bucket list for about 12 years. But it's pricey. we are hoping to go this year for our anniversary. :)

  8. The dining after dark experience sounds crazy. I would really enjoy that. My food bucket list includes some insects, and a lot of great wine.
    Desired chef would be Julia Child but I guess I will have to wait until heaven for that one!

  9. Dining in the dark sounds like a really cool experience. I'm not sure that I have a particular restaurant on my bucket list. I will have to give that some thought.

  10. I love that Swedish place. Its fun being a foodie, I wish I could eat out more often!

  11. I would like to eat sushi in Japan, pizza in Chicago and Italy, and croissants in France! Maybe someday in the d i s t a n t future, lol!

  12. I've never even thought about making a bucket list for foods, but yours is quite interesting.

  13. I love trying different restaurants and different foods. I visit NYC often and it is so much fun finding new restaurants!
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  14. We always say we would like to travel around to all the Diners Drive ins and Dives finds

  15. I am a big Hell's Kitchen/Gordon Ramsey fan as well. It amazes me the dishes they make! I really don't have a bucket list for foods but I like to try new places.