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Four Winters ice cream shop brings innovative techniques to Long Island City

Four Winters Ice Cream at 47-38 Vernon Blvd.

Four Winters Ice Cream at 47-38 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City, makes special ice cream prepared with nitrogen to freeze it immediately. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

There’s a new ice cream shop in town serving up the sweet side of science. Just opened last Friday, the Long Island City location of Four Winters freezes each scoop of ice cream with nitrogen gas. Then, from liquid bases, the scoops emerge.

The storefront is designed to make ordering an experience. Behind the counter, you can watch the chefs at work preparing the bases and mix-ins. You pick your flavor and watch it transform into a scoop that can be plopped into a freshly fried waffle cone.

Flavors at Four Winters, located at 47-38 Vernon Blvd., start as concepts based on seasonality and are created using made-from-scratch ingredients before being frozen as though in a mad scientist’s laboratory. 

The result of nitrogen-freezing? Creamier ice cream. Co-founder Zaynab Abdullah says there’s no time for ice crystals to form because the base freezes so quickly.

Abdullah was first connected with fellow co-founders Omar Alkhawaja and Zeid Zabian by a family friend, and the pair brought her on to develop the menu. A born-and-raised New Yorker who was working in IT but happened to be a chef with a lifelong passion for cooking, baking and making ice cream — she attended culinary school before working at Del Posto and Mah Ze Dahr  — Abdullah took the opportunity and changed careers. 

Four Winters opened in London in 2013, then set up shop in Jordan, Egypt and Los Angeles. Each location, Abdullah says, was thoughtfully chosen, including Long Island City. 

“We also look for places that have strong communities. It’s such an important facet of our business model. If we don’t have that strong sense of community, we don’t want to be there. We don’t want to be in a mall or a shopping center...There are so many families [in Long Island City], so many lovely faces we get to see day in and day out.”

The focus on seasonality at Four Winters helps ensure that ingredients are fresh and carefully sourced, and different times of the year also inspire new flavor ideas.

“We always to try to take a look at what’s in season when we create flavors,” Abdullah says. “Sometimes when we hit the dead of winter, there’s not much available in terms of seasonality for fruit, so we start to look at feelings. What does one want to feel in winter, what does one want to eat?”

Using the same kind of logic, Abdullah developed a Key lime pie flavor, explaining, “Nothing feels cooler or more refreshing than limes in August heat.”

COOL FACTS

  • With about three to five new ideas for each season, Abdullah estimates Four Winters has developed over 100 flavors for all of its locations.
  • The shop serves several flavors at a time, with some of them being seasonal or special.
  • Four Winters’ signature flavors include cookie dough, cereal crunch, and knafeh, a play on a Middle Eastern dessert Abdullah says she wanted to make to celebrate her roots. The knafeh is a sweet cream base blended with kataifi dough (like shredded phyllo dough) and a simple syrup and sprinkled with pistachios.
  • Abdullah says the most popular flavors so far seem to be the Key lime pie, knafeh and cookie dough.
  • Toppings and mix-ins include brownies, cookie dough, chocolate crunchies, sprinkles and vermicelli, along with chocolate, honey, salted caramel and simple syrup sauces.
  • Four Winters is located at 47-38 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. For more info, visit fourwinters.co.

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