Recent posts about Berkeley Bowl and Gravenstein apples have had me thinking about some of the things from Northern California that I miss now that I live in New York.
Meyer lemons are at the top of my list. I grew up with a big Meyer lemon tree in the backyard, and so to me Meyer lemons are what lemons are supposed to taste like. Each time I visit my family in Oakland during lemon season I bring a bagful back with me and then make simple lemon desserts, like lemon merengue pie, so the flavor really comes through. Chefs seem to love Meyer lemons, I think for the reason I do: their flavor is softer and more complex than that of Eurekas, which often seem overly acidic and one-dimensional in comparison (at least to me).
Unfortunately, because they thrive best in the temperate microclimate of the East Bay, and because their soft skins make them less amenable to storage and shipping than other citrus fruits, Meyer lemons aren't grown much commercially. And when they are, they're invariably quite tiny and quite expensive, whether they're sold in the Bay Area or on the East Coast, making it an expensive prospect to get a healthy amount of juice. (Conversely, the fruit of our family lemon tree is quite large.)
If you have easy access to Meyer lemons, don't take them for granted!
Caitlin, you're lucky you still have a Meyer lemon tree in your family! I too grew up in California (L.A.) and we had a Meyer Lemon tree next door. Since we were friends with the neighbors, we were allowed to help ourselves. The neighbor's daughter and I used to bake them in her EZ-Bake oven. I'll never forget the smell! My family has since moved. I sure miss those lemons...
I got one in the back yard that kicks all the time! My roomies are gardeners, so the fruits and veggies are especially prolific. Oh, I never take the tree and other gifts of the backyard for granted. I always thank the tree, plants, etc.
BTW, I am intrigued about baked lemons. How and why did you guys do that?