One of my most cherished memories is when I worked as chef at a rehabilitation center in Malibu. Situated just off the Pacific Coast Highway, this beautiful beach house lay nestled between lush, hilly mountains and seaside floral gardens. It was a dream.
Taking early morning and mid-afternoon breaks, I would walk into the blossoming landscape that was the “yard” of this beach house, savoring the ever-blooming flowers and fruits to be found. Scattered across the grass and cobble walkways, citrus trees seemed to be in season year round, their magnificent colors reflecting the abundant sunshine of the coast. I need only take a five-minute stroll to fill my apron with limes, lemons, and the occasional orange, all to be used in the day’s meals yet to be prepared. I took care to only bring inside what citrus could be used in the next few days, as tempting as it might be to fill my arms full of fruits. Yet the citrus that always made the cut and found its way into a dressing, sauce, or salad that afternoon, the Meyer lemon, stands above the rest in my cookbook.
Meyer lemons, unlike the common lemon, have a smooth texture, extremely round shape, and bright yellow, almost orange color akin to fresh egg yolks. Compared to the average lemon, their taste is less acidic and a bit sweeter. For this, they work well as the feature flavor in desserts like cakes, frosting, and bars. The peel contains very little pith — the white, bitter part of the inner peel — and is thus completely edible. Sliced whole, they are delicious roasted with meats, tossed in salads, and cooked down in sauces.
The opportunities for utilizing Meyer lemons in your culinary creations are truly endless. As a Malibu chef looking to feed a house of 20 people a day, I had no problem bringing a bushel of lemons inside to experiment with. Even now, as I cook from my apartment for one (or two, if my hungry roomie is around), I am enlivened and delighted to bring home an armful of Meyer lemons, and I am taken back to the seaside, and to the sunshine of citrus.