Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Elvis Abrahanowicz & Sarah Doyle of Porteno. Click for more photos

Kitchen Spy: Elvis Abrahanowicz and Sarah Doyle

Elvis Abrahanowicz & Sarah Doyle of Porteno. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Imagine the ultimate retro kitchen zhooshed up by a stylist and you might envisage the one belonging to Elvis Abrahanowicz and Sarah Doyle of Porteno fame, the hip Sydney restaurant they co-own with chef Ben Milgate. The hearth of their inner west home is light on technology but big on charm as the couple shares a love of kitchenalia, embroidered linen and the way things used to be made. They live with their poodles, Buddy (the black dog) and Marcel (the white). Elvis and Ben have released their second cookbook, Recipes for a Good Time, for the party season.

My toolkit

Elvis Abrahanowicz & Sarah Doyle of Porteno.
Elvis Abrahanowicz and Sarah Doyle of Porteno with their poodles Buddy and Marcel. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Elvis: We collect a lot of kitchenalia and we use it all but we don't have many modern appliances. No toaster, no electric kettle, just a dishwasher, a blender and a mixmaster for Sarah's baking. A friend who's a sign writer customised it for her. I collect jelly moulds and crustacean plates. I'd never use anything other than Victorinox knives; they're soft steel so they're easy to keep sharp and they're cheap.

Sarah: For me it's all about the display. For Elvis it's about the food - I don't care about that because I can't cook. (She can - she's a keen baker).

Inspiration

It might be art, architecture or produce at a market. I find it everywhere. But there is one book I go back to often, Cocinar lo Menos Posible by Xabier Gutierrez. He's one of the chefs at Arzak in the Basque country. He just talks about ingredients and what to do with them but there are no actual recipes.

I'm cooking

Last dinner at home.

Elvis: We're rarely here but when I do cook at home it's usually something on the open flame grill (adapted from a raised garden bed) which I built in the garden with my dad. Barbecued peppers and eggplant, poultry because it cooks quickly … salads. There's never any dressings, just olive oil and salt, maybe garlic and lemon juice.

We're drinking

Aveda peppermint tea with liquorice root is so good. We live so close to good cafes we just go out each morning to get piccolo coffees while we're walking the dogs.

Most memorable meal

We're very close friends with our neighbours and we had a progressive dinner with entrees at one house, here for main course and then dessert at another. It took about five hours. The next day we all had to swap glassware back because we'd carried drinks from each other's houses. We all used all our best cutlery, linen and crockery and there wasn't too much pressure on anyone. We all just concentrated on doing one good dish.

Saturday night tipple

Elvis: I'll drink anything but my drink of choice is Jack Daniels. I might have a beer or if we're out dining I'll have whatever wine suits the food.

Sarah: I love an espresso martini. I know it's poxy and cliched but I don't care. I also love a Dark and Stormy which is spiced rum, half a lime and honey and ginger syrup. And Curly Flat pinot noir is lovely.

Secret vice

Elvis: Kraft singles!

Sarah: Peppermint choc chip ice-cream is my favourite food in the world.

The Staples

Our pantry:

Olive oil, which varies, but it's always new season and Australian. Murray River salt. Garvey Spanish sherry vinegar. Brookfarm gluten free muesli is second to none with the perfect balance of sweetness. Tinned fish such as sardines, mussels, anchovies, smoked oysters. I just get whatever's available and try all different brands. Old Bay seasoning (a mix of herbs and spices including celery seed and paprika) is sprinkled onto everything, especially onto apples for a dish we serve with duck. We always have honey from anyone who makes it themselves which we buy at markets. That's for putting on cereal and in smoothies.

Our fridge:

Barambah organic yoghurt, soy milk, eggs, Vegemite, Harmonie organic butter. Masterfoods American mustard and tomato sauce for Sarah's English muffin with a fried egg, a Kraft single and ketchup and mustard. The only savoury dish she cooks.

Kitchen highlight

We like the open shelving because you can see everything easily and you're more likely to use it.

Favourite

Elvis: The old St George oven is amazing, it's insane. It's huge and reliable.

Sarah: The vintage cutlery set we got as a wedding present. We use it all the time and it makes everything look so pretty.