Aruba is a small Caribbean island only 18 miles north of Venezuela. The island is 20 miles long and six miles wide and is one of the safest Caribbean destinations where even the water is safe to drink. And, the food is great, including a Cabrito Stoba (goat stew), a local favorite.
When John and I visited, we stayed at Sunset Beach Studios where we paid $100 for a room with a porch with a killer view of the sunset. There were many things we liked about Sunset Beach Studios. It was small, in a quiet area, had a pool plus the staff was very helpful suggesting car rentals and things to do.
Driving is easy in Aruba if you don’t mind roundabouts, but the signage is not as good as it could be. So after exploring on our own, we asked the staff of Sunset Beach Studio to suggest a tour. Based on their recommendation, we booked a half-day North Shore tour with ABC Tours for $75. Aruba may be small, but it has two distinct areas: the south is where the beaches, hotels, gentle seas and tourist zones are; the North Shore is lined with cliffs pounded by waves and is virtually devoid of habitation.
On our tour, we visited the beautiful Alto Vista Chapel, the ruins of a gold mine, and unique rock formations with petroglyphs. I asked about the goats freely grazing in many areas. Our guide, Rocky, said some were feral and others where part of a free-roaming herd.
“Do the people eat goat?” I inquired. “Yes, of course,” Rocky replied, “The island has few natural resources so goat stew is a traditional Aruban meal.”
Rocky told us that the arid island was not suitable for plantations (therefore there was no slavery) so the Spanish imported goats. At one time Aruba was even called “Goat Island.” When I asked where we could get some goat stew, he suggested the Waka Waka Restaurant next to the ABC office.
After our tour, we went to the restaurant where the Chef Dwight Stamper invited us to watch him prepare Goat Stew after which John and I got to try it. Delicious!
Cabrito Stoba (Goat Stew)
2 lbs goat meat (cut into 2 inch chunks)
2 capfuls of brandy
4 drops Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbs Complete Seasoning (or a comparable mix of onion power, garlic power, salt, basil, oregano)
8 whole cloves of garlic
2 green peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1.5 cup water
1 tbs oil
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp annatto (achiote) or substitute curry power
1 tsp beef bouillon
In a pot, place goat meat, brandy, Worcestershire Sauce, and Complete Seasoning. Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes or longer.
In a pressure cooker, place six cloves of garlic, half of the green pepper, half of the onion, all the celery, the meat and one cup of water. Cook under pressure until it whistles and then let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes without opening the lid.
In another pot heat the oil and sauté remaining green pepper, onion, and garlic until lightly brown. Add half cup of water, potatoes, cumin, annatto, and beef bouillon. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add carrots and goat meat mix from the pressure cooker. Cook another 5 or 10 minutes. Can be served with deep fried plantains, polenta, and garnished with cucumbers soaked overnight in cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
If You Go:
Sunset Beach Studios, L. G. Smith Boulevard 486, Malmok, Aruba; phone (297) 586 3940 or toll free (800) 813 6540 www.arubasunsetbeach.com).
ABC Tours, Schotlandstraat 61, Aruba; in Aruba (297) 582 5600; in the US toll free (888) 815 3577.