By Jerry Zezima
If anything is sweeter than ice cream, it’s my 4-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, who is sweet on ice cream herself.
That’s why she was happy to meet someone who makes sweets for the sweet: Choudry Ali, who owns Magic Fountain, a popular ice cream store in Mattituck, New York.
Ali, as everybody calls him (“It’s easier,” he said), recently invited me, Chloe and my younger daughter, Lauren, aka Chloe’s mommy, to Magic Fountain to see the magic behind the fountain of ice cream he makes every day.
“I’m going to need your help to make the next batch,” Ali told Chloe, who was busy eating a cone of vanilla soft serve with sprinkles, her favorite, which Ali kindly gave to her as prepayment for her manufacturing services.
Chloe nodded, getting a dab of ice cream on her nose.
“Can I help, too?” I asked eagerly.
“Yes,” Ali replied. “As long as you don’t make a mess. I have a feeling that Chloe is neater than you are.”
Ali, 49, acknowledged that he has made his share of messes in the 10 years he has owned Magic Fountain.
“One time I forgot to turn on the freezer switch, so when I opened the machine, chocolate spilled out all over the floor,” Ali recalled. “I had to go home to get changed. At least I smelled good.”
He was just finishing a batch of black raspberry, which prompted me to show off my vast ice cream knowledge by saying, “Let me guess. The main ingredient is black raspberry.”
“What are you, a stand-up comedian?” Ali asked.
“Well, I am standing up,” I noted. “If I were sitting down in a tub of black raspberry, the fruit would be on the bottom.”
Lauren rolled her eyes. Chloe kept eating.
As Ali cleaned out the 24-quart machine for the next batch, he said Magic Fountain has 250 kinds of ice cream, including 45 everyday flavors and five that rotate every two weeks.
“What’s your favorite flavor?” I asked Ali.
“Pistachio,” he said.
“Do you ever make extra just for yourself?” I wondered.
“Of course,” he replied. “And I never get in trouble with the boss.”
“My favorite is rocky road,” Lauren said, adding that it helped her get through her pregnancy with her younger daughter, Lilly, who is 9 months old and will no doubt be an ice cream fan, too.
When Ali asked what my favorite flavor is, I said, “Whatever we’re about to make.”
It was honey-cinnamon.
“An excellent choice,” I told Ali as he opened a 48-ounce bottle of honey and asked me to pour it into a plastic container.
As I squeezed, with minimal results, I asked Chloe to lend a hand, which at this point was streaked with vanilla ice cream and sprinkles. Lauren wiped it off so Chloe could help me. The honey came pouring out.
“Good job!” Lauren said.
“She’s a pro,” Ali added.
“How about me?” I asked.
Ali responded, “Let’s just say it’s a good thing Chloe is here.”
Chloe smiled and helped me pour 8 ounces of ground cinnamon into a measuring cup, which we then dumped into the container. Ali gave me a spatula and asked me to mix the two ingredients. I was slower than molasses, which wasn’t even in there, so Ali took over and showed me how it’s done, after which the honey-cinnamon had the smooth, creamy consistency of honey-cinnamon.
Ali opened the slot in the front of the machine and squeezed in a two-and-a-half-gallon bag of ice cream mix, which includes butterfat but is egg- and gluten-free, and asked me to pour in the honey-cinnamon mixture.
“Turn on the machine,” Ali said. “And don’t forget the freezer switch.”
Twenty minutes later, the ice cream was finished. It filled two buckets totaling five gallons.
“OK,” Ali said. “Time to taste it.”
He handed a small plastic spoon to Chloe, who scooped some out, put it in her mouth and exclaimed, “Wow!”
“Is it good?” Ali asked.
“Yes!” Chloe chirped.
“And you helped make it,” Lauren said proudly.
“I know,” said Chloe, who got a clean spoon and had another taste, after which Ali gave her a cup of vanilla and pistachio “for being such a good ice cream maker.”
It was a sweet gesture by a sweet man, who gave some honey-cinnamon to Lauren and me and tried it himself. We all agreed it was great. Then Ali put the batch in the shocker, or deep freezer, where it would stay for 12 hours before being sold.
As we were leaving, Chloe gave Ali a high-five and said, “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” Ali replied. “Now you can say you taught your grandfather how to make ice cream.”
Copyright 2017 by Jerry Zezima