Neufchatel is what cream cheese aspires to be - it's believed that William Lawrence, who 'invented' Philadelphia cream cheese, did so while he was trying to produce an American version of the French cheese. Neufchatel originates in Normandy, a region famous for its dairy products. Although it's moulded into a variety of shapes, it is often made into a heart, which is known as coeur de neufchatel. Neufchatel has a milder flavour than, and lacks the strong scent of, longer-aged cheese. It has an edible, soft white rind similar to that of camembert (which is also produced in Normandy). Made from cow's milk, neufchatel comes in fermier (farm produced from unpasteurised milk) and mass-produced, pasteurised versions. The flavour is saltier than that of cream cheese, which is bland on its own. It's also creamier and more spreadable than cream cheese, which has a thick, 'sticky' quality that comes from stabilisers. Producers of American neufchatel and Philadelphia suggest using it in recipes that call for regular cream cheese, but this would be an expensive option if you're buying the French version - and its flavour would be wasted in cheese cake, anyway. It's better for savoury dishes, such as pasta with leek. Cut the leek (white and pale green parts only) in half length- wise and wash thoroughly to remove dirt hidden between the leaves, then slice into 1cm pieces. Melt some butter in a skillet, add the leek, salt and pepper and cook over a low heat until the leek is very soft. Cook pasta (spaghetti or linguine) until al dente then drain, add it to the skillet and mix to combine. Add chunks of neufchatel and allow it to melt slightly in the heat of the sauce and pasta. Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper.