I have seen others asking about this but have never seen a good answer.
The idea of Recent Places or Recent Items is a good one, and is found in many contexts, operating systems, and softwares. However, in OS X it seems that usually a recently accessed file or folder is not in the list.
I have found this an annoyance since converting to Mac in February 2009. The problem has persisted through Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.
Why is this so? It is really hit or miss whether something is there.
As a workaround, it would be nice to know what you have to do to "get something in the list." As an example, does it have to be done in Finder? Or does it have to change the metadata? Or what?
If I knew the workaround, it might be easy enough to always "do that thing" so that the expected entry in Recent Places is created.