Born in Guatemala, Isabel Diaz Irias moved to Canada as a small child in the early 1980s. She grew up, nurtured within a strong community of Latin American immigrants, rich in food and cultural heritage. The aroma of corn tortillas cooking over a fire, from her great grandmother’s house in Guatemala has stayed with her. To this day, cooking her own handmade tortillas brings a smile to her eyes and fills her with joy as she prepares similar dishes at Ixim Café & Bistro, located in the heart of Wakefield, overlooking the river.
“I feel so grateful to live here. The river is so alive and this land rich in the most incredible flavours!”
Isabel moved to the region 12 years ago and met her husband-to-be, Pierre. Pierre’s wildcrafting of local foods found in the forest and fields combined with Isabel’s deep-rooted love of Indigenous and Latin American foods and culture have merged into a wonderful fusion of traditional Latin American cuisine with the Boreal local, wild edible landscape. “We are all about feeding people and nurturing relationships with the ways in which the food comes to us, through supporting Indigenous producers, local farmers, growing and ethically foraging our own.”
Ixim Café & Bistro is a project that has grown out of a love of the wild landscape, wild edibles and medicinals, and the staples of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
“This work feeds me. I get to speak Spanish a little, offer a different cultural food experience, and connect with people” says Isabel.
The charming bistro seats 25 people and includes an outdoor patio space. They serve an array of delicious, wildcrafted artisanal sodas and teas, and traditional Latin American dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, and pupusas, a traditional dish with a fried stuffed tortilla served with curtido (Salvadoran sauerkraut) and salsa. Many other options including manoomin (wild rice bowl) and mixtas (corn tortilla with wild boar, sauerkraut and guacamole) are also fan favourites.
Ixim had only been open for 6 months when Covid-19 struck. A timely tip from her accountant connected Isabel with the SADC.
“The people at the SADC were amazing, very helpful … they were critical in helping us get through the toughest 6 months.”
Looking ahead, Isabel is most excited about the upcoming offerings at Ixim such as the Fall Wild Harvest Dinner as well as Wild Drinks & Tapas Nights. It’s an ongoing love affair exploring Latin American and Indigenous cuisine. Isabel’s great grandmother, who has had a profound influence upon her, would be proud.
Visit Ixim | www.iximcafebistro.com | 819·593·0846