Are you the ultimate foodie? Do you find that your television is permanently glued to the food network or that you tailor every travel itinerary around the best gourmand adventures in a city? Do you think about dinner while eating lunch and base your dining choices on Michelin stars, budding superstar chefs or wine-pairing dinner menus?
If the answers are “yes” to any of these questions, then this Food Lovers Bucket List is for you.
Foodie Bucket List
Being raised in the back rooms of my family’s restaurants, and being a current restaurant owner is the reason that my bucket list has a large food experience section (I am constantly on the hunt to find the best food in the world!)
And I’ve picked out the best 30 things every foodie must do:
1. Eat at the French Laundry
The French Laundry in the Napa Valley is definitely an overachiever, it has had three coveted Michelin Stars since 2006 and Anthony Bourdain has called it “the best restaurant in the world, period.” It’s Chef’s Tasting Menu is a must-do experience for all Foodies! Owner and chef extraordinaire, Thomas Keller is a master at his craft, but it will cost you a pretty penny to eat his food at this highly acclaimed restaurant. A dinner can easily run over $400 per person, but the hardest part is actually getting a reservation which can take months. You can use these tips to try and secure a reservation at The French Laundry. Let me know if you are successful!
Foodie Bucket List Goal 1B: While you are waiting to snag reservations, why not try your hand at cooking some of the exquisite dishes that you can find in The French Laundry Cookbook.
2. Hunt for Truffles
A truffle is an underground fungus that expert chefs consider a culinary delicacy due to their rarity and flavor. Because of this, you can expect black truffles to retail anywhere from $175-$400 per pound, so hunting for them yourself may be a better option for the pocket book, and a much more fun experience. Venturing through the woods on your own to hunt for these foodie treasures is not recommended, It is best to hook up with a specialized company because they will have a trained dog or pig that are experts in finding truffles. You can turn your prize finds into delicious dishes, they can be mixed inside a crab ravioli or tossed in a creamy risotto.
3. Create Your Own Cocktail
Many foodies are also experimentalists, and becoming your own mixologist will test your skills. The best part about this bucket list goal is that you will have to do a lot of sampling before coming up with your own perfect harmony of flavors. Practice makes perfect!
In the heat of the Arizona Summer, I decided it was the perfect time to create my own refreshing cocktail. The funnest part? Testing all the different concoctions. In the end, my signature drink was a Lemon-Basil Fizz made with prosecco, coconut rum, raspberries, basil and lemon sorbet.
4. Dismember a Chicken
There’s an art to butchery, and dismembering a chicken is no exception. Many of us purchase our poultry already in a nice neat package with the meaty breasts all in a row, but learning this skill is not only impressive it will also save you money on buying the already dismembered parts at the butcher. Make sure you have a super sharp knife and watch your fingers!
5. Make Fresh Pasta
One of my fondest memories as a child was helping my Italian grandmother make fresh pasta on the kitchen table. It didn’t matter what shape it was, the handmade pasta always tasted better. There is nothing like the taste of fresh pasta and it is fairly easy to make, using only 3 ingredients you can make fettuccini, pappardelle or tagliatelle. Click here for the recipe I use at my restaurant.
At my Italian restaurant we use the red Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine every single day and love it! They have a bunch of other cool colors too.
6. Taste Wine Directly From The Barrel
Barrel-tasting is being done by a wine-maker during the entire course of fermenting wines. It is one way of determining when is the perfect time to bottle the wine. Have you ever wondered how it would taste when you directly drink wine from the barrel?
You too can taste straight from the barrel.
Many wine regions will have special events centered around barrel tasting, so you can not only get a sip from one barrel, but from many. It is the perfect opportunity to learn one important step in the art of winemaking and talk to the experts.
7. Tour a Food Factory
There are thousand of different types of food factories that produce edible products of all types. One of my favorites was the Jelly Belly Factory in Northern California where you can see a rainbow of colors circulating on massive machinery. Visiting these factories is not only fun, it is also educational. Plus, depending on the factory, you may get a sampling of the product right off the conveyor belt!
> Top Food Tours Factory Tours in America
Bonus Bucket List Goal: You can order a box Jelly Belly’s Bean Boozled. It has 20 flavors, 10 weird and 10 wild, that are meant to look like the classics. It’s a crap shoot as to whether your flavor will be stinky socks, spoiled milk or simply coconut. Just try to not end up with rotten eggs!
8. Create Your Signature Dish
Celebrities have their signature style. Dancers have their signature moves. Foodies who can cook, must have their signature dish. Spend some time thinking about what dish is your go-to, what are you asked to bring to every event because the plate always ends up empty. Is this what you want as your signature dish? If yes, then spend time perfecting it. If not, create another dish that you become known for because it is the best in your recipe arsenal.
> How To: Making a Signature Dish
9. Start an Herb Garden
Buying those tiny little packets of herbs at the grocery store can get expensive. Instead find a cheap (or free) container and make your own herb garden. You don’t need a lot of space and the vessel can be anything from a wooden crate to a mason jar to an old tire.
For an easy option, just buy an herb starter kit. Nature Blossom’s Sow & Grow makes it simple by giving you everything you need to grow five organic favorites: Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Cilantro.
photo by suzette – www.suzette.nu
10. Try Escargot
Of all the exotic foods in the market, this one is a must try! I vividly remember my little Italian grandmother combing the hills in northern California for snails. I was naïve to think that she was collecting these critters as pets to add to my collection.
After slathering them in a garlic butter sauce, they definitely make a better dinner than pet.
11. Pick Fruit From a Tree and Make a Pie
There’s an art to making the perfect homemade pie. It’s all about the freshness of the fruit, creating the perfect pie crust and making it with a touch of love. Find the closest fruit tree and start picking your favorite fruit for your next masterpiece. It doesn’t matter if it’s apples, lemons or peaches — pick whatever is sure to make your mouth water.
If you are rusty on your pie making skills, this book should help: Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life.
12. Make Ice Cream
There’s nothing better in the hot summer months than a cold scoop of delicious ice cream. And making your own is not as hard as it may seem. The trick is to perfect the basics, then expand on it by adding different flavors. After returning from Italy, I successfully replicated a Hazelnut flavored gelato that I enjoyed every single day while traveling through the country. Not only was it delicious, but it also brought back such fond memories of strolling through the streets of Florence with a scoop of my favorite flavor.
TIP: You don’t need fancy equipment to make this dessert, I use Cuisinart’s Ice-20 Automatic and it works amazingly.
13. Brew your Own Beer
It has been claimed that beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world. No matter where you are, you’ve probably noticed craft breweries popping up with uniquely named flavors — the industry has grown way beyond the simple Coors Light! Why not try your hand at creating your own flavor profile that fits your taste buds?
14. Have a Bellini at Harry’s Bar in Venice
The bellini is the signature drink at the world’s most famous bar — Harry’s Bar in beautiful Venice! The bar opened in 1931, and soon after founder Giuseppe Cipriani created his white peach cocktail “The Bellini”, made with prosecco and white peach puree. It may be one of the most expensive cocktails you ever buy (about $20), but it will be quite an experience to have a cocktail in the place it was created.
15. Make a Gingerbread House
I have always dreamed of living in a gingerbread house as a kid. I bet you did too! It’s time to relive the wonders and start making your own gingerbread house. It’s simply a bonus that you can always eat it afterwards.
16. Learn How to Taste Wine Properly
Smell, swirl, sip! There is so much more to tasting wine than just taking a big gulp. There is a special talent in checking the color, sniffing the aroma and identifying the flavor profile. Many times either local wineries, wine shops of junior colleges will offer classes so that you can perfect you skill.
17. Make a Family Recipe Book
Many times there are fond memories related to family dishes. Maybe your grandmother always made you a special chicken noodle soup when you were sick or your aunt Maria specializes in traditional Greek food and brings over the best baklava to celebrate your 18th birthday. Having these yummy memories all in one book will be the ultimate gift to yourself.
18. Take a Cooking Class in a Different Country
Being a restaurant owner and chef, I enjoy taking cooking classes all over the world. I have learned to make pierogi in Poland, pad thai in Thailand and macarons in France! There’s nothing like learning tricks and techniques from the country that are experts at creating the dish.
19. Tour a Vineyard
If you are anything like me, you like wine. A lot. But, have you ever taken the time to learn what it takes in order for you to enjoy a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir? Vineyards all over the world offer tours that will take you through the vineyards, to the barrel room and finish with tasting.
> 10 of the Worlds Greatest Wine Tours
20. Milk a Cow By Hand
They say that milking a cow by hand is a fairly easy task after you learn how (isn’t that true about most things?). Though, you will need to master the technique of how to hold and manipulate the teat if you want to check this experience off your foodie bucket list.
21. Attend a Winemakers Dinner
You’ve learned how to properly taste wine, so now its time to take that knowledge to a winemakers dinner where you will be served premium wines that are specially paired with different courses of a meal. Typically, a chef and sommelier will work together to create a food and wine pairing menu that complement each other.
22. Boil a Live Lobster
Many foodies would acknowledge the fact that cooking a live lobster can be quite intimidating. But, it’s actually a fairly easy thing to do, taking only minutes depending on the size. The reward is being able to slather the fresh lobster in clarified butter and indulge in a decadent meal that you prepared yourself.
> How to Boil and Eat a Lobster
23. Shuck an Oyster
When you order oysters at a restaurant they are usually prettily served on the half shell laying on a bed of ice. That’s because someone else does all the work of shucking them for you. This is a foodie skill that you can potentially become a master at after just a dozen or two. Your knife just needs to find the hinge, then twist, pry and rotate.
24. Eat a Bizarre Food
Have you ever tried blood sausage, Vietnam worms cakes or crunchy insects? There’s a lot of bizarre food out there, especially when you travel the world. Step out of your box and try some sort of obscure food that you would never have imagined eating.
Below is a big bug sundae that I ate while in Portland, Oregon.
25. Recreate a Dish From a Different Country
Be it a simpler Swiss fondue or a complicated French filet de bœuf en croûte, recreate a foreign dish that brings back a memory or inspires you. It could be meal from a plate that reminds you of that tiny little village in Greece or one that motivates you to visit a place you have never been, like the South of France.
26. Create Latte Art
Baristas never fail to amaze me each time they hand me a cappuccino that’s topped with a heart, flower or some other creative design. Being a restaurant owner who has a commercial espresso machine, I can promise you that you’ll be drinking A LOT of espressos while you learn. It’s best to take a class, and be prepared for the coffee buzz.
27. Make and Bottle Your Own Wine
You don’t need to own a vineyard to make and bottle your own wine. You can either create your own at home or work with a vineyard, many of which will help you to create the perfect blend for a small batch of vino. After it has been aged and bottled, you can even create your own label.
Read > How to Make Wine at Home
28. Enter a Recipe Contest
Here’s the time to showcase your skills! Let the world taste your secret recipe. Either enter your dish in a small local competition or go online and find large recipe contests where the prize could be an inclusion in a big-time magazine or a large check. Who knows you might win something incredible for the love of food.
> Recipe Contests at Contest Cook
29. Extract Honey From a Beehive
Natural honey is an immunity builder, energy booster and remedy for many ailments, as well as one of the healthiest sweeteners. Though it can be purchased at many stores, that would not be quite as impressive (or exciting) for a foodie as extracting it yourself. Thankfully, most beekeepers will use a smoker to subdue the bees and give you a fashionable, full-body protective suit to wear.
30. Wade in a Cranberry Bog
Cranberries are a very unique fruit because they are low-growing woody vines. When it’s time to harvest they are flooded with water and the ripe fruit floats to the top. Farmers then enter these “bogs” to collect the cranberries.