Allie and Anton’s place in Redfern is the kind of house where you hope to stay for dinner. The walls are plastered with drawings and note cards that are each – in their own right – a talking point, they’ve got an excellent record collection and a tantalising bar full of booze that you’ve probably never heard of.
Allie is an artist who makes theatrical linocut prints and Anton is one of the founding members of the Swillhouse group and is responsible for some of Sydney’s favourite eateries (Hubert, Shady Pines, Frankie’s Pizza and the Baxter Inn). Together they’ve made a home that suits them, with separate bedrooms and space to do what they enjoy. We visited their terrace house on a warm afternoon to talk (naturally) about good food, better wine and met their zealous parrot, Quanah.
How did the two of you meet?
[Allie] We met at Siglo on Spring St, Melbourne. I asked for a job after spying him working at the bar. I didn’t last long because I’m a terrible door bitch, but we kept bumping into each other on really random back streets around the city and he asked me out for a drink. We had our first date at Jim’s Greek Tavern with multiple carafes of shitty red wine. I had no doubt that I would marry him one day pretty early on in the relationship, if that doesn’t sound too crazy.
[Anton] I remember Allie walking in on her first shift – total babe, way cool, haughty. Her and I were both on a break in the staff room. She had just finished eating 3 portions of microwaved staff meals when we started the polite, cute, chit-chat that prefaces all relationships.
We had our first date at Jim’s Greek Tavern with multiple carafes of shitty red wine. I had no doubt that I would marry him one day pretty early on in the relationship, if that doesn’t sound too crazy.
Allie, what kind of subjects for your linocuts are you interested in at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on a series of around 30 small linocuts for an Italian restaurant with Rob Marchetti (food) and Jason Scott (fun times) opening in Nolita, New York at the end of this year. They’re all based on Italian dining but with very much an Australian feel. I’m also working on some large scale works for my next solo show at China Heights Gallery in 2019.
Tell us about your bird!
Quanah is an Eclectus parrot, we’ve had her for about 6 years. She’s a demanding little rodent but very much part of the family.
When you get home on a Friday, what do you pour yourself a glass of?
[Allie] I head straight for a margarita!
[Anton] Something white, orange or red. It just depends on my mood and what we’re eating. Beaujolais or Burgundy are both getting a good workout at the moment.
How long have you lived in this home? What are some of the things about living here that you enjoy?
[Allie] We’ve only lived in this house since Christmas. We moved to Avalon at the end of 2016 for a year but realised that was a bit of a mistake as it was so far away from friends.
I love the location of this house. Being able to walk to our studio in Darlinghurst is great to get your mind working. Terraces are comfortable to live in and I love the heritage aspect. I think this one especially has been thoughtfully preserved over the years. The cornices, arches, mouldings and marble fireplaces are all original.
[Anton] I love our tree-lined street and watching the bike riders and pedestrians make their morning commute through the park. The courtyard garden that Allie has put together is a peaceful retreat. I love cooking in the kitchen. It feels like an old provincial homestead. All the cupboards and benchtops are rickety and falling apart. I love the old, arched chimney where our new stove sits. Everything sits in the right place. I love our records, our dinning table, the French doors onto the balcony and the wonky light fittings. I love everything about the house, it’s perfect.
Where did you pick up the rugs on the wall in your bedroom?
[Allie] The handwoven rugs on the wall were bought at the most incredible (and only) antique store located in Zion National Park in Utah. They’re Navajo design and the owner was explaining the stories woven into each rug, of which I’ve now completely forgotten.
Do you have a morning routine?
[Allie] My brain is the sharpest in the morning, so I get up around 6.30am, Quanah eats breakfast at the table with us, then we head to the studio. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym but I usually do it around midday to break up the work day. Anton makes much better coffee than me, so I listen for the grinder before getting out of bed.
[Anton] Wake up at 5:30, open the windows, burn essential oil, make coffee, journal, yoga/weights, breakfast, work.
A bedtime routine?
[Allie] My bed routine is usually a quick shower, cup of tea, bed. Anton and I sleep in separate rooms. I fucking love it, it means I can watch as much Arrested Development and Kath and Kim undisturbed in my own bed as I like. I find reading is too stimulating before bed.
[Anton] I sleep with a sheet and a fan blasting. I read novels until I fall asleep.
You both work together now at Swillhouse, what are you working on at the moment?
[Allie] We’ve been working together on a Swillhouse journal focusing on Australian-based food and wine. Something light hearted and fun. Maybe looking at another venue to open… I’m keen to do a lot of overseas travelling this year since I’ve finally gotten over my lame-ass fear of flying.
Anton, what’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?
Allie and I came across the most beautiful wine bar in the medieval town of Pescocostanzo. It’s in the region of Abruzzo, Italy, close to where my Nonno was born. We dined al fresco, surrounded by crumbling buildings, beautiful signage and rolling hills. The food of the region is simple, robust and delicious. After befriending the owner we were fed the local specialities – boar sausage, sheep’s milk cheese and far too many bottles of Montepulciano.
We sat on crooked-leg chairs and watched the sun set over this wonderful town. Simple, authentic and magical. It was one of those perfect travel moments that happen far too rarely.