Hannah Terry-Whyte is a writer and NGO policy officer in her mid-twenties, dedicated to proving that life is better when it involves chocolate, travel, homemade nut butters, friendship, indoor cartwheeling, and the ability to laugh at yourself. She's also the Canberra-based blogger behind Wayfaring Chocolate.
We chat to Hannah about how food connects her with family, an unusually tasty chocolate-avocado dessert, and having a thing for raw cauliflower.
Why the name Wayfaring Chocolate?
The name Wayfaring Chocolate represents two of my greatest loves: travel and chocolate. I started writing my blog when I went travelling for four months by myself around America and Europe in 2009. Considering that I now also write recipes, restaurant reviews, and both general and ridiculous musings, I should probably call the blog Wayfaring Agave Nut Butter Singing Fool Travel Dreaming Chocolate. However, that doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily.
Talk to us about Canberra's food scene.
Canberra often gets a bad rap for its food scene, but we have fabulous restaurants, bakeries and cafes tucked away here. We have great mid-range and higher-end eating options, although I think we have a bit to learn in terms of delicious cheap eats. Some of my favourite places in Canberra are Sage, Iori, Lanterne Rooms, Urban Pantry, Flute Bakery, Artisan, and Pistachio.
Elaborate on your love of chocolate.
I love chocolate because it is delicious, exciting, enticing, ephemeral, and because sharing it brings people together. Teaching myself to appreciate the nuances of high-quality, artisan, and inventive chocolate helped draw me out of the anxiety and sadness I fell into in my late teens, and made food fun again. Plus, friends, family, and readers keep sending me chocolate from all over the world, so the least I can do is love what they give me!
What sparked your interest in raw vegan desserts?
I discovered raw foods and desserts about a year ago through blogs written by people who are now dear friends. Coming from a family with many allergies and intolerances, raw vegan desserts offered a way to make brownies, cheesecakes, mousses, and truffles with ingredients that I love, but had never put together before: nuts, medjool dates, coconut oil, agave syrup, cacao nibs and avocado, just to name a few. I haven’t yet experimented with lucuma and maca, though!
What dessert will you always have room for?
At the moment, I have a stash of raw vegan mango cheesecakes in my freezer that I would like to keep eating forever. They’re made with dates, coconut, almonds and pecans for the base, and soaked cashews, mango, agave, vanilla, and coconut oil for the ‘cheesecake’ top. I also love my no-bake vegan Anzac biscuit truffles and ethereally light raspberry whip.
What's your most "outside the box" creation?
I’d have to say my raw vegan brownies with chocolate avocado icing! You can’t taste the avocado at all, just an incredibly rich and smooth chocolate icing over a cocoa, nut and date base that tastes like brownies. They’re the most popular recipe on my blog, although I secretly prefer my carob maple syrup version.
During your four-month trip around the United States and Europe, which cuisine was most surprising and why?
I love the diversity of food in the United States. As someone drawn to fun and allergy-friendly treats, I adore America for its dairy-free chocolate chip cookie dough, coconut milk ice-cream, butter toffee-flavoured peanut butter, and blue cheese made of tofu, as well as its growing emphasis on fresh, local, and organic food. Plus, who doesn’t love eating a king-size Elvis-branded Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup while walking around Graceland? With regards to Europe, my answers are obvious, but I loved Paris for cheese and Mont Blancs; Florence for gelato; and Antwerp for pain d’epice.
Where do you want to take your food blog in the future?
My dream, as many bloggers would surely admit, is to write full-time. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember, either of novels or in a capacity that allows me to travel, eat, and then write about it. For the moment, though, I’m happy to keep expanding the food blog and making people laugh and yearn to cook delicious desserts. The emails and messages I get from readers telling me that reading my blog makes them laugh and feel better about the world, ensures the late nights (and late-night sugar crashes) are worth it.
In the debate over which chocolate is best – milk, dark or white – where do you stand?
There are some wonderful white and milk chocolates out there (by Askinosie or Vosges, for example), but my heart lies with very dark chocolate. I probably shouldn’t admit how often I eat Lindt 85% dark chocolate for breakfast.
Your connection with food isn't just about taste, but also making food for, and in memory of, your loved ones. How is it that food can communicate so much?
Food is connected to love, laughter, family, friendship, and happiness, so it’s the perfect way to show people that I care about them. I love surprising someone with treats I’ve created according to their favourite flavours (plus I get to lick the mixing bowl). I do have ulterior motives, though. Baking for loved ones gives me the perfect excuse to write about the food and the people on my blog. For example, I can use a granola recipe to talk about how my brother takes care of me even though he once sat on my head, or a raw cookie dough truffle recipe to describe my choir’s mid-year touring adventures.
What would your audience be surprised to learn about you?
I give so much of myself away on my blog that this is a tricky question to answer! My followers might be surprised to learn that I’ve had four mystery injuries in my life that doctors, surgeons, or X-rays haven't been able to figure out. Apparently, if I had a superhero power, it would be foiling the medical system without even trying. Also, I can eat an entire head of raw cauliflower in one sitting.
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