Tickling The Ivories And Taste Buds

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 27, 2011
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Jon Nakamatsu

Pianist Jon nakamatsu calls hawaii his “home away from home.” The world-class pianist and Van Cliburn award-winner will return to honolulu this June for the aloha international Piano festival. it’s the only festival of its kind in hawaii, and features concerts, classes and competitions.

At the festival, Nakamatsu will perform in concert, teach private lessons and a master class. The master class is a “public” lesson for aspiring pianists.

Anyone can observe a master class; they offer a fascinating interplay of ideas among teacher, student and audience. it can change the way you listen to music.

For Nakamatsu, whose grandparents immigrated to Hawaii from Japan, the festival also is a chance to visit an enormous number of aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. he was raised in California, but spent summers in Hawaii. he was asked on his recent tour: When you land in Hawaii what is the first thing you’ll do? his reply: “The first thing to do is to throw on a T-shirt, shorts and slippers and get some shave ice!”

Growing up, what are your special memories of Hawaii?

“We spent many summers in Hawaii with our huge family,” he says. “Of course, this made for many parties and lots of food. Spending time with my cousins also meant driving around the island, getting lost, constantly eating plate lunches and saimin (and then eating more!), sightseeing and just experiencing the island.”

The aloha international Piano festival is slated for June 11-18 at hawaii Convention Center. for more information, visit alohapianofestival.com.

Thanks to nakamatsu for sharing this recipe with MidWeek readers!

Jon Nakamatsu’s Spinach And Chickpeas With Olive Oil And Lemon

* 1 or 2 bunch(es) fresh spinach
* 1 or 2 cans chickpeas
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon salt

Soak spinach in cold water and wash each piece.

Remove the thick stems. do not chop spinach, but break huge pieces into two or three smaller ones.

Place spinach in pot with salt. Do not add water. Cook over medium heat until stems slightly soften. This does not take very long. drain all liquid from pot.

Drain chickpeas (after peeling off chickpea membranes for cleaner look). Put chickpeas and remaining ingredients into pot and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Note From Jon:

Mom actually uses less lemon since dad thought it was too acidic. But i like it strong - however, one can add lemon later to taste. Perhaps serve with extra lemon wedges on the side.

This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe in Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by Marcella hazan. it is modified by years of cooking and was a recipe that my aunt and mother used. i also have changed it slightly.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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