Valencay cheese doesn't look that attractive. The unpasteurised goat's cheese, shaped like a four-sided pyramid with the top cut off, is dusted with ash before it's aged, and it looks like a dusty, dirty old-fashioned iron weight. But cut into the cheese through its wrinkled grey rind, and the off-white, creamy core is revealed in all its glory.

The cheese gets its name from the Loire Valley commune in central France where it is made (and which is almost as famous for its wines). Valencay cheese and wines have appellation d'origine contrôlée classifications, which means they are made to strict standards. The cheese is matured in caves for only about three weeks, so it has a fresh, nutty, citrus-like flavour, and a rich, creamy texture that's very different from that of aged goat's cheese.

The Valencay pyramids are quite small (about 250 grams) so the whole cheese is usually presented on a cheese board. It's probably not a cheese you'd want to cook with - for one thing, you'd have to cut off the edible ash because it would discolour the dish, and you wouldn't be able to appreciate the flavour if it's cooked.