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Saturday, June 18, 2011
El Cuadrilatero, Mexico City:El Gladiador, El Super Astro's Ultimate Torta Throwdown
I have no idea how we ended up at a torteria made famous by a giant sandwich developed by a luchador(wrestler) after two weeks of relentless, gluttony, but there we were.My plan was to stroll Mexico City and look around, and possibly grab a nibble somewhere. I had stayed another day just to recuperate from Aromas y Sabores, a 2-week long stretch of eating through 5 states in Mexico with 90 others. The trip was led by famous Mexican chef and dear friend, Patricia Quintana.
Colombian Chef Pablo Aya, a new friend I made on the trip wanted to check out a market, maybe the Merced? I couldn't believe how indecisive I was that day, wait, THAT'S how I ended up face to face with 1.3 kilos of sandwich,it was a moment of weakness!So much for a light salad and a stroll. We started at the Mercado Mercado Medellin to check out the produce and food stalls before heading off to Cafeteria El Cuadrilatero Jr.(the wrestling ring), a sandwich battleground.
The signature item here is El Gladiador(Gladiator), a recipe from a Lucha Libre wrestler from Tijuana called el Super Astro.
His ex-wife, Guadalupe runs the place now, with over 30 years in the business, el Super Astro is still jumpin' off the top rope in Tijuana,"Lucha Libre por la vida." I thought to talk the guys into a regular torta, another new friend Hernan had joined us, but the regular tortas are as big as the telera roll being held in Guadalupe's hand.Sheesh,there's no easy out here, it's go big or go home.
"We might as well share the Gladiador",said Pablo,"I mean...we're here." Makes sense to me.So much for the post-2 week feeding frenzy detox!
El Super Astro's son is definitely not up for the challenge,but was a good sport when mom made him put on the mask
The challenge, eat the Gladiador in 15 minutes or less and it's on the house. You also get your name added to the list of only 99 other mortals who've achieved this extreme eating feat. "About 2 try each week",teased Guadalaupe,"but only 99 have finished the torta in the 20 years we've been in business, the last one was in February." Oh yeah, 100 is up for grabs. You'll get a Cuadrilatero torta in addition to getting your Gladiador comped for being the 100th to eat this behemoth within 15 minutes,plus bragging rights.
On the walls are photos and memorabilia from el Super Astro's still relevant career.
He even keeps a vigilant watch, Juan Ramirez, Luchador and master tortero,El Super Astro.This is his arena, his recipe, think you can pin this torta?
A wrestling ring of 8 eggs with fistfuls of chorizo piled on. It's then cut into rectangular omelettes to fit on the subway-style telera roll.
Bacon sizzles, and wennies roast; a bed of ham for the egg-chorizo omelettes to rest upon is made.
Oaxacan cheese, practically a whole ball of it to make this torta seems to be plenty, but wait, there's more. There are avocadoes too, and some other vegetable hidden in the mound of ingredients.
Thin slices of chicken and steak are the final ingredients, delicately stacked on top along with the hotdogs.
In a triumphant double spautula hold, this seasoned tortero, 5 years with El Cuadrilatero, casually lifts the torta for us to snap a few pictures.Be sure to drop a bowl of their superb chipotle salsa on the sandwich, it's to die for.
The torta itself is delicious, nothing magical here, just a lot of greasy goodness under one roof.You really get to taste all the ingredients, there's so much of everything, you're sure not to miss any element.
Even dividing the torta into thirds, we still had a whole plate of food leftover. I can't even imagine that a person could finish this. My 1/3 Gladiador kicked my ass.
We sure tried, but El Super Astro, you're too much even for this tag team.
Here's Pablo demonstrating the power of the mighty Gladiador. It took us each a moment to figure out how to go about eating this beast.
Pablo and Hernan ponder the size of the Gladiador
1.3 kilos of uber-rich torta in 15 minutes,or, bring some friends and put your heads together, we think this can feed four, easily. It costs about $17 for the Gladiador.There are other tortas and food items on the menu, and even a Gladiador Jr.,(half a Gladiador) but you're in El Super Astro's house and he's calling you out. Think you got the stomach for this?
Cafeteria El Cuadrilatero
Luis Moya 73
Mexico City, Mexico