The breakfast you get in a bed and breakfast house in Ireland is a recognizable cousin of our own: basically bacon and eggs with toast. However, the bacon is neither American-style belly bacon nor Canadian-style back bacon but a thin, meaty cut of pork loin that has been cured and smoked (available at the Irish Import Shop, 738 N. Vine St., Los Angeles), and the toast will be made from fresh Irish soda bread. There are likely to be a few strangers on the plate as well: fried tomatoes and possibly some thick, chewy Irish potato pancakes.
At Sunday brunch, Gilliland's Cafe in Santa Monica serves this sort of Irish breakfast, including dense, meaty sage-flavored pork sausage. But the menu also offers a very soothing, uniquely Irish dish of cabbage and potatoes called Colcannon, known in Northern Ireland as champ. Some traditional versions include peas or nettles (the leaves of the stinging weed) as well. This is Gilliland's recipe.
Gilliland's, 2424 S. Main St., Santa Monica, (213) 392-3901. Open for Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; lunch served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner served daily from 6 to 11 p.m.
(Potatoes and Cabbage)
4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces
1/2 cup butter
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup milk
2 bunches green onions, chopped
Cook potatoes until tender in boiling water to which 1/2 teaspoon salt has been added. Drain off water and return saucepan to low heat. Cook potatoes few minutes, shaking and stirring occasionally, until dried. Rice potatoes and set aside.
Melt 1/4 cup butter and saute cabbage until tender. Add to riced potatoes.
Scald milk in separate saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add green onions and cook 30 seconds. Add to potatoes and cabbage, mixing well. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Serve with poached eggs and sausage for breakfast. Can also be served with Irish stew or by itself as comfort food.